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Affirmative Action

January 9, 2010
By mads942 SILVER, Houston, Texas
mads942 SILVER, Houston, Texas
6 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Diverse: composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities (Merriam-Webster). The word diverse is most closely linked with the inclusion of various races in an organization or institution, although that is not its literal meaning. Affirmative action is the policy of admitting minorities into colleges despite poorer objective test scores or GPAs to try to create a diverse, well-rounded student body, but citizens argue that it cheats intelligent people out of what they have worked for. Affirmative action unfairly implies that all minorities think the same way, compromises the achievements of non-white students in favor of their race, and tries to remedy racial inequality when socioeconomic equality is the issue that needs to be tackled; so our country needs a level playing field when it comes to the quality of education that is obtained by varying social classes.
The policy of affirmative action suggests that race is the only indicator of diversity, but that is untrue and suggests that all minorities think the same way. “If “diversity” were really the goal, then preferences would be given on the basis of unusual characteristics,” by filling the student body with people of all racial and social classes who have varied experiences (Sacks and Theil 1). The idea that the only way to achieve diversity is to have different racial groups generalizes minorities and builds up racial stereotypes. While the claim that only non-whites can add unique insight and standpoints insults whites, it is also discourteous to minorities “because it implies that all minorities think a certain way” (Sacks and Theil 1).
Affirmative action minimizes the accomplishments of minorities since it calls the legitimacy of their merit into question. In this nation so focused on overcoming racial stigmas, ethnicity has become a prime criterion for colleges and jobs when it should not have anything at all to do with admissions. This leads to situations where “very significant achievements of minority students can become compromised” (Sacks and Theil 2) because the true value and merit of a student can be questioned when they area minority and could possibly have been accepted to add culture to the class. Shelby Steel is quoted in the article President Obama Goes Over the top on Affirmative Action speaking about how white politicians’ “depiction blacks as hapless victims perennially in dire need of preferential race remedies,” is an insulting and untrue example of the misrepresentation of affirmative action that downplays achievements in the black community (Thompson 19).
Racial inequality is not the issue affirmative action should be targeting, socioeconomic inequality is the problem that must be solved. Martin Luther King Jr. realized that poverty was the main issue in our country and says, “The curse of poverty has no justification in our age…The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty”. The goal of affirmative action is to make it possible for the unrepresented groups of our country who need help getting into college or finding quality jobs do so. However, it targets race, when people of all races exist in every social class, leading to situations where “preferences primarily benefit minority applicants from middle- and upper-class backgrounds” (Sacks and Theil 1). The policy of affirmative action is not beneficial if it does not give aid to those who need it, just provides support for racial minorities that do not need any extra help getting into colleges or finding jobs. Affirmative action should focus on socioeconomic standing to create diversity in college campuses and workplaces. For affirmative action to accomplish its goal, support should be “give on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of race” (Sacks and Theil 1).
Many argue the necessity of affirmative action for the well being of our country. Some say that because numerous minorities receive poorer education at a primary and secondary school level we need affirmative action to level the playing field. While I concede that minorities do not have the educational opportunities that citizens in more affluent areas do, this problem cannot be fixed by affirmative action. This is an issue with our education system as a whole. Improving the quality of learning for elementary aged children will in the long run benefit our nation far more than letting under qualified people into colleges or jobs. Some also say that SAT scores do not reflect merit, but only the environment students are placed in. Stanley Fish writes, “Everywhere you look in the SAT story, the claims of fairness, objectivity, and neutrality fall away, to be replaced by suspicions of specialized measures and unfair advantages” (3). That is true, for “students in upper-class schools have more access to upper-level classes and test-preparation classes” but again, this fact is only a call for an equal education system that will allow the test to show the true merit of each student (Pryse 1).
Our country is in dire need of a solution, yet I do not believe that affirmative action is the right one. I say that we need to level the playing field in elementary, middle, and high schools so that merit can truthfully be utilized. Finally, only when ethnicity is disregarded can our nation begin to slowly heal from the wounds of racism. Shelby Steele comments that President Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor for Supreme Court shows “no understanding or even desire for a post-racial society”(Thompson 20). He remarks on the falsity of a truly “color-blind society in this point in our country’s history. America needs a solution for our biased education system, but affirmative action wrongly generalizes minorities all as identical, devalues the accomplishments of non-white students because of their race, and attempts to fix racial inequality when socioeconomic equality is the concern that needs to be remedied.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Apr. 17 2010 at 1:19 pm
elfiewrites BRONZE, Hillsdale, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 114 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom, in the heart."~William Hazlitt
"Be yourself, everyone else is taken."

WOW! Powerful stuff! I love your wording. Please, if you get the chance, give me feedback on my newest article, "Is There Reason?" Much appreciated.